Fort Collins Changes Recycling Program To Fit Evolving Cost Benefit Balance – CBS Denver


FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– As communities continue to go green by recycling more often, the City of Fort Collins is now turning away some single-use plastics in an effort to be more cost efficient. Jonathon Nagel, Senior Specialist for Environmental Compliance, told CBS4 items like frozen food trays and single-use cups, like the kind used for iced coffee, are no longer worth the cost of recycling.

Fort Collins Recycling Plastic

(credit: CBS)

Nagel said the demand for the small plastics decreased after companies that repurpose the materials started charging to obtain them. Fort Collins used to sell the plastics to companies. Now, they pay upwards of $80 a ton to get rid of the material.

Nagel said those items are now being separated from the recyclables and thrown in to the landfill.

“We have no other option,” Nagel told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

Jonathon Nagel Fort Collins Recycling Plastic

Jonathon Nagel (credit: CBS)

Fort Collins is not the first city to make the change, citing increasing costs. Items like cups and clam-shell containers often used to carry fruit are now considered “low value” plastics.

“It is not just about being able to collect (plastic) and send it out. It is about having markets to send it to, and people who are going to turn that product in to a new product,” Nagel said.

Fort Collins Recycling Plastic

(credit: CBS)

“I definitely find it disheartening. If anything, if we can’t recycle we shouldn’t make it,” said Jessica Knutson, a Fort Collins resident who uses the city’s recycling system.

Nagel said the practice is not new for Fort Collins. Low value plastics have been sent to the landfill for three years now. The city wanted to be transparent with their customers and citizens by explaining the reasoning for their decision.

Fort Collins Recycling Plastic

(credit: CBS)

Nagel said residents could help the city save money by not placing those plastics in their recycling, preventing the need for workers to comb through the recyclables to find them.

“People with the best intentions, it is plastic and they want to do the right thing with it. But, it doesn’t mean it is accepted,” Nagel said.

Fort Collins Recycling Plastic

(credit: CBS)

Nagel hoped sharing further details on the recycling process would encourage residents to continue recycling that which is accepted, while also spreading the word on that which no longer is.

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